Growing fear over UN Durban anniversary conference

Jewish organisations are pressing the government over next month's UN conference in New York marking the tenth anniversary of the Durban Declaration on anti-racism. They fear it will lead to a renewed international campaign against Israel following the previous two conferences.

The British government has yet to decide whether to follow the US and a number of other countries in pulling out of Durban III, as it is known.

A delegation from the Jewish Human Rights Coalition (JHRC-UK), which represents the Board of Deputies, CST and other Jewish organisations, was due to meet Foreign Office officials this week, having previously called for the UK to withdraw from the conference.

A Board spokeswoman said: "In 2001, Israel was the only country specifically singled out in the official declaration from the first Durban conference."

At the follow-up Durban II conference in Geneva two years ago, the declaration was renegotiated "to remove any explicit reference to the Middle East" she said.

But a draft declaration for next month's event reaffirms the original Durban programme, thereby providing potentially new ammunition for the UN Human Rights Council to put Israel in the firing line.

The Board spokeswoman said that there was also concern that Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is due to attend the event.

It takes place during the UN General Assembly, when a threatened Palestinian unilateral declaration of independence could add to pressure on Israel.

Last updated: 12:26pm, August 4 2011